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All People > SkyGirl > SkyGirl Blog > 2014 > August
  When I first found EX (which was a completely random Google miracle), I wasn't even sure I wanted to quit yet.
  And yet, here I am, a successful Quitter. 
  Why?  Because when I came to EX, I could see that there were people here who had already achieved what I wanted to achieve: these people were ex-smokers and I was still a smoker.  They had something to share.  I should listen.
  I accepted that.  And I DID listen.
  I read what they told me to read (even if it seemed stupid and simplistic.)  Oh, how my ego had to eat some humble pie when what I read actually made ALL the difference in the world in my Quit!). 
  I did the tracking exercises offered here on EX.   I learned that, even though I smugly thought I already understood my triggers (phone, car, coffee...duh), I had one MAJOR trigger that I had never before understood.   Many smokers have unconscious triggers that they are completely unaware of!
  I did the separation exercises offered here on EX.  Yes, I felt stupid and (I'm embarassed to admit it) superior when doing these exercises.  But, holy cow.  I cannot tell you how scary it was to walk out of my door on a trip to the grocery store, leaving my cigarettes behind on purpose.  And how incredibly empowering it felt to make that trip to the grocery store and back again without lighting up...and (surprise!) not dying for want of a cigarette.
  There's been some discussion here lately about whether or not you have to WANT to quit in order to be a successful Quitter.  Here's the thing, folks.  You don't have to come here with the absolute conviction that you are ready to quit.  But you wouldn't have found your way to EX if you didn't already have the "seed" growing in your brain.
  You   DO have to come here ready to   listen,   read,   take advice and   do the work.  And when you make that   DECISION to quit, you must   COMMIT to that decision and that you must   HONOR your commitment every single day, no matter what life throws at you.  Did you hear me?  I said, "no matter what life throws at you".
  You must decide that you are no longer TRYING, ATTEMPTING, HOPING...  You must decide that you will do whatever it takes to never smoke again.  
  Your addiction to nicotine is no stronger nor harder to beat than the nicotine addiction of anyone else who has ever come here to EX and been successful.  (Hate to say it this way,'re not special.  Nicotine is a equal opportunity addiction.)
  You CAN do this.  When you are ready to stop leaning on cigarettes, lean on EX.  We are real people, not a burning stick of dried leaves.  We will give you the emotional support that you THINK you've been getting from cigarettes.
  xxxooo,  Sky

San Fran? Orlando?

Posted by SkyGirl Aug 7, 2014

Just got assigned a trip with a check-in time in DC at 4:45am.  And it's already almost midnight!  I had better get forty winks pretty quickly!

My layovers are in San Francisco and Orlando.  I'll be in Burlingame CA all day tomorrow, 8/7, (8:30am- 11pm).

After working the red-eye back to the East Coast, I'll be in downtown Orlando all day on 8/8 (7:30am until  7am the next morning, which is the 9th.

You guys know me.  My favorite thing is to find EXers in the cities where I lay over and get together with them.  I've met some incredible EXers and had some wonderful times in various cities.

So...who lives near Burlingame?  Or somewhere close that I can get to on the BART?

And who lives in Orlando...would that be Marilyn (marmac)????  Who else?

If there are any brand-new or semi-new EXers reading this, PLEASE don't be shy!  Send me a private message or just comment on this blog.

Don't make me sit in my hotel room...   ;-)

xxxooo,   Sky

Many people decide to quit cigarettes on the spur of the moment. 

They may have been thinking that they WANT to quit for a long time, but the actual moment is a knee-jerk response to smoking too much the night before or some other trigger that makes them toss the pack in the trash and declare, "That's it.  I'm done with cigarettes!". 

And then they feel really good about it...until the first craving hits them and they can't figure out how to get through it.  So they say, "Ohhhh, this is TOO hard.  I can't do it!".  And then they smoke.

They did not PREPARE for their Quit.  And as Miguel de Cervantes said, "Forewarned, forearmed; to be prepared is half the victory".  (Good old Miguel wrote "Don Quixote"  Here's a pic of him.  Isn't he cute? 

And he wasn't just a pretty face!  He was right about this. 

Forewarned?  It means gather knowledge about your enemy (nicotine).  It means learn all that you can about addiction, about quitting, about what works and what doesn't work. It means listen to the folks who have already quit successfully here on EX and take their advice seriously.  Do the reading.  Do the Tracking and Separation exercises here on EX.  Understand your addiction BEFORE you attempt to quit.

Forearmed?  It means spending time thinking about, and choosing, how you will handle cravings.  These are the weapons with which you will be forearmed.  (The word "forearmed" is a fancy way of saying "armed beforehand". Get it?)  To do this, I suggest you start with two separate lists

The first list is "Things I will DO when I am Craving".  This should be small simple tasks or activities, such as take out the trash, play solitaire with real cards, start a load of laundry, do 15 jumping jacks, trim your toenails, go yell at the people who work for you (ok, maybe not THAT), crossword puzzles, write a real postcard to someone, rearrange your desk, call your mother, take the dog for an extra walk, clean out your kitchen junk drawer, walk 200 get the idea, right? 

The second list is "Things I will Put into My Mouth INSTEAD of Cigarettes".  These are oral distractions.  Flavors and textures that will distract your senses from a craving, and keep your mouth busy until the craving passes.  The obvious things are gum, hard candies and mints.  But think outside the box, too.  Other items on this list could be licorice sticks, whole cloves, olives, flakes of red pepper, Cheerios (one at a time, like a baby does), teeny cubes of cheese, a sprinkle of cinnamon sugar on your tongue, pistachios, butter rum Lifesavers, fresh cherries, swigs of bottled water, a Tootsie Roll Pop, sticks of fresh zucchini, cherry tomatoes, a spoonful of peanut butter...have I got you thinking?

Now, assemble your "weapons" against the cravings.  Buy or find the items on these lists that will allow you to put these ideas into actual practice when a craving hits.  Find a suitable totebag or box.  This is your "Quit Kit"  (Yes, I know some of this sounds juvenile but, guess what?  Dying from nicotine is serious and you need an arsenal to beat your addiction.)  Don't forget to include your two lists in your Kit.  

During the first days of your Quit, and for as long as necessary, keep your Quit Kit near you.  And utilize it when the urge to smoke hits you.  Never DWELL on a craving.  Just open up your Quit Kit!

Finally, don't forget the most super-secret effective Crave Buster EVER:  Bite into a whole lemon, peel and all.  Nothing will kill a crave faster.  I promise.

The point is this, folks; If you prepare properly for your Quit, you are more likely to succeed.  Don't just sit there and feel reeeeaallly bad when a crave comes over you!  Take ACTION until the crave ebbs away.

"Forewarned, forearmed; to be prepared is half the victory".  It's a solid strategy.

xxxooo,   Sky

...often go astray.  You can plan ahead for everything except the unexpected.

Nancy (youngatheart) and I had made plans to get together today.  I was going to drive (drive? what's that?) up to Baltimore and we were going to have a nice lunch at home and just hang out.

My car wouldn't start.

So I spent the day with the tow truck driver, the service advisor and the mechanic at the car dealership instead of with Nancy.  :-(  :-(   :-(    Not only do I like Nancy better than those three guys, I also doubt that Nancy would have charged me $465 to spend the afternoon with her!

Nancy is not yet feeling papparazzi-ready and decreed (in capital letters, no less!) "NO PHOTOS!"  This made the shutterbug in me very restless.  I had made a nice lunch to take with me, so I arranged it artfully and took photos of it, hoping that would satisfy my need to take photos of everywhere I go.

Here, Nancy, please enjoy your lunch vicariously.  (I actually ended up giving half of everything to the neighbor who drove me back to the dealership tonight.  He was very happy to have your lunch.)

The menu:

Appetizers: garlic & herb green olives, lupini beans and smoked almonds.

Salad: Caprese Salad (beefsteak tomato, fresh mozzarella, fresh basil and a drizzle of balsamic glaze.

Entrees: 1) Greek Orzo & Shrimp,  2) Portabello Mushrooms stuffed with Italian Sausage & Spinach.

                 3) Zucchini Boats filled with Asparagus, Fresh Corn and Genoa Salami with Melted Cheddar

Sides:  Fruit Kabobs.  Red Pepper & Onion Potato Salad.

Dessert:  Ghirardelli "Twilight Delight" Intense Dark Chocolate.  King Leo's Soft Peppermint Sticks.

Let me be clear.  My little car problems are nothing at all compared with Tommy's heart attack, the death of Kathryn's son and mikecity's serious injury.  But it was still an expensive, unpleasant way to spend the day.  Especially since I was supposed to be hanging out with Nancy in Baltimore.

I should say something about cigarettes (since this blog had nothing at all to do with smoking!).  I walked (by choice) about three miles of the way home from the dealership.  I counted the cigarette butts along the sidewalks and curbs.  The total number was astounding.  I also was able to make some observations about people's butt-throwing habits.  But that's a whole different blog!

photo ad7a8302-7122-4749-8691-4abfbad66b74_zpsecbcd2f9.jpg

  One thing is sure here on EX: if you are a new member, you will be given recommended reading.  Some will be links, some will require you to go to another site, some are downloads.
  "I've already read all I need to know about how smoking is killing me" you may be saying.  Well, so have we.  That's some scary stuff.  But scare tactics are not an effective method.  That's not what the recommended reading is about.
  "I didn't come here to get homework.  I just want to know how to quit" you may be saying, as if we have discovered some magical secret that we can tell you.
  We ARE telling you how to quit:  Do the reading.  It's not exactly a magical secret, but the reading has played a HUGE part in the successful Quits of hundreds of people here on EX.  "How's that?" you may be asking.
  I'll bet that you, just like most of us here on EX, have had several unsuccessful quits.  And during those quits, you've used phrases like: "trying to quit", "making an attempt", "see if it works this time" and my personal favorite "Wish me good luck!"  And then you "try", but you end up smoking again.  Why is that?  Because you are still thinking of smoking as something that you are "giving up", "doing without", "sacrificing".  You fully expect to be miserable.  You can't even imagine your life without smoking.  (Neither could we.)
  The key is to change the way you are thinking about quitting.  You can flip your thinking 180 degrees so that you no longer feel like quitting is "taking away" your cigarettes.  Instead, you can begin to see quitting as a release from nicotine addiction.  You see it as freedom.
  "Freedom from what?" you ask.  Well, for starters...freedom from smelling like a dirty ashtray, from always worrying about  if you have enough cigarettes to last until you can get to the store, from constantly scheming how and where you can have your next cigarette, from hiding your smoking from your friends or family, from spending money you need for other things, from having to locate the smoking area every place you go.  Shall I go on?  Not to mention the health benefits!
  So how does the reading help to flip your thinking?  The reading will teach you all about nicotine addiction and why it has such a strong grip on you.  You will learn that nicotine actually physically changes your brain receptors, which then start telling you that you enjoy smoking, that nicotine relieves stress, that you need cigarettes, that you'll miserable if you don't have nicotine.  The reading will show you that these things are not true. 
  And somewhere during the reading, you will go from dreading quitting to being ready to quit being a prisoner of nicotine anymore.  You will finally, really and truly, WANT to quit.  
  And THAT is what makes for a forever, final, successful Quit.
  You can do what we have already done; QUIT.  Your addiction to nicotine is no stronger, nor harder to beat, than our addiction was.  If we can do it, you can also do it.  But the self-education that will flip your thinking around is absolutely KEY to success. the reading.  Over and out.
  xxxooo,  Sky